Daily Telegraph Classmate Series

History of Democracy in Australia. By: Jordan R and David H

How was the early Australian Government run?

The first type of Government in Australia was in 1788 when NSW was ruled by a governor who was helped by army officers and soldiers that was made by the British government and this group of people represented them. Some of the army officers took over and ruled in a corrupt way. The British decided that Australia’s government needed to be improved, so in the 1820's the British set up a small council to help the governor. The first governor of Australia was Arthur Phillip. On 1855, NSW made a new Government that had two sections or houses. One of them, the legislative assembly or lower house, had 54 elected members. The other one, the legislative council or upper house, had 21 members that were chosen by the governor and each could remain a member for his whole life.

How were elections run and how were leaders chosen

How electing in Australia started

Electing in Australia started on 1830 when the people of NSW began to argue for a new government one with elected members by the people to represent the people rather than the British Government choosing the leaders for them. Finally, on 1843 the people of early Australia had a chance to vote. But only members of the government and wealthy landowners were allowed to vote. By the mid 1850’s NSW, Hobart and VIC had elected government

Ballot Boxes

Soon enough VIC and SA introduced and suggested to use ‘ballot boxes were people put their votes in closed boxes. They did this so no one else could see other peoples votes and bully or threaten them because of who they voted. These ballot boxes are still being used today and are one of the most important features of democratic elections in Australia.

Democratic Solution

Women in Australia started to argue that they should be able to vote for a leader as well. They formed organisations and campaigned for many years. In 1895 South Australia allowed women to vote for parliament. Soon enough, other governments around Australia did so as well.

How is the early Australian Government different to the modern Australian Government?

  • One of the differences between the modern and early Australian government is who leads the country. During the early times there was only one level of government where each state (called territory back then) was ruled by a governor and a small group of people that represented UK. The modern government is ruled by a Prime Minister and has 3 levels of government Federal (ruled by a Prime Minister, who is helped by ministers eg: minister of education), State (ruled by a premier) and Local (ruled by a mayor).
  • Another difference between the early and modern Australia government is that during the early times most of Australia's decisions and laws were made by the British government. Now we make our own decisions and laws and we run the country on our own management.
  • Another difference between the early and modern government of Australia is the way laws are made. During the early times of Government laws were made by the process of the Governor would suggest a law to the British Government and they will decide if it is necessary or not. A law is made in the modern government when one of the ministers makes a suggestion for a law. The Bill (is the name of a law when it actually isn't a law yet) is passed to the House of Representatives were everyone votes and gives their opinions. If the Bill is successful it is passed to the Senate to repeat the same process, if it isn't then it will not become a law. If the Senate vote for the Bill it will be passed to the Governor General to be signed and the Bill is now a Law.
  • Another difference is who voted. During the early times only wealthy men and council members could vote. Now, everyone can vote but you have to be over 18 and you have to be a Australian citizen.

Australia's Prime Ministers since 1901


1. Edmund Barton/Prot

2. Alfred Deakin/Prot

3. John Watson/ALP

4. George Reid/FT

5. Alfred Deakin/Prot

6. Andrew Fisher/ALP

7. Alfred Deakin/Lib

8. Andrew Fisher/ALP

9. Joseph Cook/Lib

10. Andrew Fisher/ALP

11. William Hughes/ALP NAT

12. Bruce Stanley/Nat

13. James Scullin/ALP

14. Joseph Lions/UAP

15. Earle Page/CP

16. Robert Menzies/UAP

17. Arthur Fadden/CP

18. John Curtin/ALP

19. Francis Forde/ALP

20. Joseph Chiefly/ALP

21. Robert Menzies/Lib

22. Harold Holt/Lib

23. John McEwen/CP

24. John Gorton/Lib

25. William McMahon/Lib

26. Edward Whitlam/ALP

27. Malcolm Fraser/Lib

28. Robert Hawke/ALP

29. Paul Keating/ALP

30. John Howard/Lib

31. Kevin Rudd/ALP

32. Julia Gilliard/ALP

33. Kevin Rudd/ALP

34. Tony Abbott/Lib

Our own questions- Reflection

1. What did you learnt about Government?

2. Which part of the task were you responsible for?

3. What problems did you encounter and how did you solve them?

4. What the advantages and disadvantages of working as a team were?


1. I learnt a lot about government such as how a law is made and the process it follows to become a law in the early and modern Australian government. I learnt many differences between the early and modern Australian government such as how a law is made, who lead the country and who was allowed to vote during an election. I also learnt about what happened in Australia's past that lead up to now that makes Australia a democratic and the way we govern and manage our ways, eg: when woman were allowed to vote and how ballot boxes were introduced. I also learnt from our research the early Prime Ministers of Australia that I never knew about and who they were and what Party they represented.

2. My job in this task was to answer question 2. How were elections run and how were leaders chosen? and also question 3. How is the early Australian government different to the modern Australian government?

3. One of the problems that we encountered was that only one of us could edit the presentation due to it was on one persons account and another person couldn't do anything. So we made the most of our time at school to edit it together while we can. Another problem is that one of our questions we had trouble researching that slowed us down a bit we solved this by focusing on it and eventually we found our information.

4. Some advantages when working as a group is 2 brains are better than 1, when two people work together they can think together to get more done and help each other and one person falls behind or needs help. Some disadvantages about working as a group is sometimes some people might go ahead and leave the other person behind if they need help. Another disadvantage is sometimes someone might slack off and let someone do all of the work for them and say they did some of the work.